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Americans rally, but then lose to Korea in baseball

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - The United States baseball team rallied from a three-run deficit to go ahead in the top of the ninth inning, only to lose 8-7 to South Korea on a sacrifice fly from Lee Jongwook in their opening game at the Beijing Olympics.

Trailing by two runs going to the ninth, Mike Hessman homered off Han Kijoo. Taylor Teagarden then singled and Brian Barden doubled.

The Koreans went to the bullpen and brought in Yoon Suk Min, who fanned John Gall and then got Jayson Nix to pop out.

Terry Tiffee walked and Matt Brown lined an 0-2 pitch to left-center field to give the U.S. a 7-6 edge.

It all fell apart in the bottom of the ninth, though, for reliever Jeff Stevens. Jeong Keunwoo doubled down the left field line, moved to third on a groundout and then scored when pinch-hitter Lee Taekkeun bounced a ball toward second base. Nix's throw to the plate was wide, and the game was tied.

Stevens then threw the ball away on a pick-off play, sending Lee to third. Lee Jongwook's fly ball to center field was plenty deep to drive in the winning run.

"There was a miscommunication between my first baseman and my pitcher and he threw it away," said U.S. manager Davey Johnson. "That was basically the ball game."

Brown finished with three RBI and Nate Schierholtz homered for the U.S., two- time Olympic medalists. This was the Americans' first game at the Olympics since winning gold in 2000 though, as they failed to qualify four years ago.

Brandon Knight gave up eight hits and six runs through 4 1/3 innings in a starting role, and Stevens was dealt the loss.

Bong Jungkeun allowed five hits and three runs over the first 4 1/3 frames for Korea, which got a two-run homer from Lee Daeho.

Taiwan baseball infielder Chang Tai-shan was suspended after testing positive for a banned substance. The suspension is pending the analysis of the B sample and a formal hearing.

Despite the absence of the third baseman, Taiwan beat the Netherlands, 5-0, on Wednesday. Chen Wei-Jin fanned seven over seven shutout innings for Taiwan and Chang Chien-Ming drove in two runs.

China's first-ever baseball match at the Olympics ended in a mercy rule 10-0 defeat to Canada in eight innings. Scott Thorman clubbed a three-run homer in the fourth inning and Canada added four runs in the eighth. Canadian starter Chris Begg had nine strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.

Alfredo Despaigne went 3-for-4 with three RBI as Cuba beat Japan, 4-2, in a clash between the 2004 gold and bronze medalists. Cuba has lost only three games in Olympic baseball history, but one of those was to Japan in the preliminary stages in Athens.

08/13 13:20:18 ET

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